Are the lawn and shrubs trimmed and smart looking?
Are there cracks in the sidewalks, foundation, patio, etc.?
Does the driveway need resurfacing?
Are the gutters cleaned, does the chimney need to be parged and is the siding clean and mold free?
Does the window casing, doors and frames and siding need painting?
Is there trash all over the yard (i.e. junk cars, broken toys, sheds in need of repair, etc.)?
Are your lawn tools out of sight?
Cosmetic upgrades do not have to be expensive, but can do a world of good in improving your home's appearance.
How and Where do you want you home advertised?
Do you want your home listed in the local real estate agent's multiple listing service (MLS)?
Do you want to advertise in the local newspapers?
What about the home buyer magazines?
Do you want your home shown as an "Open House"?
Where do you want your home listed on the internet?
Do you want a virtual tour Done for your home?
Do you want to use a Talking House® system?
Are you going to place a professional looking sign in the yard.
Who is going to prepare the brochures?
Showing Your Home.
Are you planning on being home? Who is going to answer the phone and schedule the showing appointments?
Are you going to walk the prospective buyers through your home?
How much information are you going to disclose? What legal obligations do you have in disclosing information? Compliance with State and Federal laws? Do you have the forms you need?
Are you planning on keeping a log of the prospective home buyers? What security issues do you have? Are you going to check ID's? What information are you going to record about the prospective home buyers?
How are you going to determine if the prospective buyer is qualified to purchase your home?
Note: Remove from your home or lock all of your valuables in a safe place. Items like furs, jewelry, coins or other valuables should not be left in the open. Absolutely, lock all firearms in appropriate storage facilities or remove them from the premises.
Some home owners can and will sell their homes themselves and save the commission paid to the real estate agents. However, as you have read above, selling your home means that you will be responsible for placing ads, answering phones, showing your home to strangers, evaluating and pre-qualifying buyers, attempting to negotiate the offer(s) and dealing with the buyers that realize you are not dealing with a real estate agent and will offer less for your home.
The first time a prospective buyer just shows up at your door during dinner hour, or wants a showing when you are on your way to church, your child's ball game, on your way to work, etc.; may help you to decide that an agent's commission is a bargain. Also remember, a real estate agent's business is selling homes. The agent is probably knows a great deal more about marketing your property, setting a sales price, preparing for the buyer's offer(s), evaluating the offer and the different types of financing that an offer may entail. Here are some of the advantages professional agents offer:
They will help you to establish a fair asking price for your home.
They will list your home for sale in their multiple list system (MLS) and the internet.
They will set up and pay for the advertising of your home for sale.
Their office will coordinate, schedule and a real estate agent will be present during the showing of your home.
A keybox system will be set up at your home so your home will be availble for showings at reasonable hours when you are not home.
The buyer's agent will screen out most of the buyers that are not capable of purchasing your home, since they will not waste their time showing a home that their buyer cannot purchase.
The agent will also be able to refer you to resources for insurance, inspections, legal counsel and mortgage financing.
Your agent will negotiate with the buyer on your behalf.
Negotiate the Listing Agreement - Interview several real estate agents. Understand the program the agent proposes for selling your home. Understand what services are included in the commission. Are there any fees other than the commission charged? What is the commission and how is the commission split between the buying agent and the listing agent. Understand who the agent represents and under what circumstances that representation may change.
Determine the Listing Price - Have the real estate agent you chose provide you with a comparative marketing analysis of your property as compared to other like properties. Ask for the agent's assessment of the market and their strategy for pricing your home for sale.
Your agent has a program set up to do this for you. It should encompass the MLS, the internet, local newspapers, home buying magazines, open houses, electronic aids (i.e. Talking House transmitters, 800 telephone numbers, etc.), brochures and agent tours.
This is always a controversial issue. Let commonsense be your guide.
Don't be in the home during a showing. If at all practical, take a walk, go to the store, drive around for 15 minutes but it is better if you are not on the premises when the property is being shown. Buyers can and will feel uneasy if they feel the home owner in the area. The last thing you want is for the buyer to feel uncomfortable in your home. If you do need to be there because the baby is sleeping, you are having dinner, an individual needs care or some other just as valid reason, then by all means be there. Just smile and try to make the buyer feel welcome, assure the buyer that you will stay out of their way and let it go from there.
Security can be a concern. Never let a buyer in your home without their buyer agent, especially if you are alone. Their buyer agent will have done some preliminary work with the prospective buyer for mortgage pre-qualification. The agent will also be watching their clients as the home is shown. For the most part there are rarily problems, but crime does happen. Jewelry will walk away, so will money and other valuables.
Always lock your valuables away or remove them from the premises before your home is shown.
During the day, have the curtains/drapes open. Some fresh air spray, carpet deodorizer and a clean home thoughout can't hurt. You want your home to be bright, cheery, uncluttered and open.
During the evening, turn the lights on, add a little mellow music, focus on nice fresh scents throughout your home (fresh scents can also be your dinner cooking on the stove) and again, have a clean home.
What terms and conditions are being proposed? Have they included all of the appropriate and practical forms, notices and disclosures required to sell your home under the terms that you desire.
Have they included the Lead Based Paint disclosure and Maryland's Disclosure or Disclaimer Statement?
Are they going to conduct a home inspection, pest inspection, water test, well test and/or other inspections or testing?
Your agent will estimate your closing costs and arrive at an approximate net proceeds derived from the sale of your home should you accept the offer before you.
Now is the time to strategize: Can you determine if the buyer is able or willing to pay more for your home? Can you anticipate a better offer from some other buyer? Do the offer's terms meet your needs and are they acceptable?
If you find the offer acceptable, sign it. If you find the offer close to the terms and price that you need, then have your agent modify the buyer's offer and make the buyer a counter-offer. If you see no merit in the offer, reject it and look for the next buyer's offer.
Ok, you accepted the buyer's offer and you are now under contract. Timeline the inspections that were included in the contract. Look for a Home, Radium, Radon, Pest, Water, Septic, Mold and other possible Inspections. Mark the due dates of the different inspections on a calender.
Once the different inspection results are given to your agent (presumably in writing), be prepared ahead of time to respond back if required.
Follow the terms and conditions stated in the contract and seek legal advice if you have any contractual questions.
The final walk through is the final inspection before settlement. At that time, the buyer walks through the home, testing appliances and viewing any repairs that were performed during the contract period in accordance with the contract and ensures that the home is in the same condition as when the contract was first ratified
The contract was ratified, the inspections passed, the buyer's financing is in place and its time for settlement. Follow the settlement agent as they review the HUD-1, the document quantifying the different outstanding bills and applying credit where credit is due. If you have any questions about the transaction this is the time to speak up. Once the documents are signed, it is generally too late to effect any major changes in the transaction.
Your ordeal is finally over and you are now homeless. Hopefully it has not been an arduous ordeal and you are ready to do it again next year.